Long time Red Sox Kevin Youkilis has agreed to a deal with Rakuten that will see him head to Japan for the 2014 season.
Youk hasn’t played for Boston in a year and a half, though it seems like much more than that. A strong start from Will Middlebrooks, in an otherwise miserable season, forced Youk’s trade to Chicago. After the season, the 34-year-old signed on with the Yankees for one year, though he only suited up for the Bombers in 28 games, as a herniated disk sidelined him for much of the year.
After eight strong years through 2011, Youk dropped off the map in 2012, just managing a .235 batting average and posting only 1.6 wins above replacement, a far cry from his .307 average and 5.4war in 2010.
Despite interest from at least the Rays, Yankees and Indians, Youk apparently was only interested in playing on the West coast of America, which makes his Japanese decision all the more curious. The Golden Eagles have reportedly been interested in Youkilis’ services for the better part of three weeks, negotiations likely intensified when Rakuten’s incumbent first/third basemen, Casey McGehee, inked a deal with the Miami Marlins.
Indeed, Youkilis will be remembered for his time atop the Sox lineup, pairing with Dustin Pedroia in one of the best 1-2 punches in the league. If this is the end of Youk’s time in the MLB, he will have garnered 3 All-star berths, 2 World Championships, 2 top-10 MVP finishes, and 1 gold glove, all during parts of 9 years with Boston.